EASD Life: illustrations of surfing medicine

Did you see Peter Mel win?

One of the most appreciated topics at the first EASD conference on surfing medicine, was presented by Boris Bornemann: “Surfing psychology and neurobiology“. He explained the drive behind the question why we surf by the size of reinforcement and the high variability of potential and successful reinforcers: e.g. “Does a wave come by?”, respectively “Can I get on it?”. The reinforcer was defined by “flow”.

The meaning of flow is comprehensively explained in a sports psychologist study, in which 15 world elite big wave surfers participated in in-depth, semi-structured interviews. Previously we summarized the conclusions, but the article is highly recommended to read full text, and not only because of nice personal quotes from top class surfers and their stoke.

Recently a short movie about one of the most famous big wave surfers was made: Greg Long. This movie illustrates not only the psychological side of big wave surfing, but also the medical side of surfing as such.

Steve Long (father of Greg Long): “On so many of these missions, there is a water safety team, designated ski with rescuer, a lifeguard that I would recruit for that day. We would have a resuscitator and a defibrillator on board of the boat. Treating it as a true mission as opposed to a ‘let’s go surfing’.

 Greg Long about his worst wipe out (Mavericks 2008): “I was pushed down to the bottom, bouncing on the bottom, disappeared into the abyss, and blow out my ear drum. You instantly lose all sense of direction, your equilibrium is gone, and not to mention this pain of feeling like an ice pick is stuck into your head”.

Although the surfers may receive the more than deserved credits for what they (try) to achieve, there are several surf photographers who deserve a lot of respect for the way they capture all this on camera. Based on what two of these photographers tell, it may be concluded that they at least have to deal with the same circumstances and consequences of (big wave) surfing, and that they are driven by a same sort of flow.

Mickey Smith (Dark side of the lens): “Broken backs, drownings, near drownings, hypothermia, dislocations, fractures, frostbite, head wounds, stitches, concussions, broken elbow and that’s just the last couple of years”.

DARK SIDE OF THE LENS from Astray Films on Vimeo.

Russell Ord (One shot): “I have no problem with drowning, getting eaten, anything really. If I do drown, it’s my own fault. It’s gonna be my own fault for not training”.

ONE SHOT- an Image and an Attitude (teaser) from Darren McCagh on Vimeo.

To learn more on what ‘s on the mind of a big wave surfer, take a seat at the QS round table where nine of the best big wave surfers in the world (including Shane Dorian) discuss the future of big wave surfing. Especially the “preparation & safety” episode is interesting. Enjoy.


Arvid Schigt.

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